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Henry Ford Museum “Driving America Exhibit” in Dearborn Michigan

by | Car Museums

The Henry Ford Museum Car Collection and the American Innovation Exhibits is located on 9-acres in Dearborn Michigan and is in a class of it’s own that appeals to all ages and is a fun family event. At the museum, you will see 100’s of rare automobiles, vintage farm equipment, significant planes, industrial equipment, The Declaration of Independence, women’s suffrage displays, a Civil Rights exhibit, a restored Rosa Parks bus, a restored 1940’s diner, and much, much more.

Starting in 2020 GM is sponsoring the permanent 24,000 sq. ft. exhibit, which is packed with such classics as Lotus-Ford, Ford GT, and Camaro racers and land speed record cars.

American invention and ingenuity is the broad theme of the Henry Ford Museum. Inside the massive building, visitors will find sections organized around farm equipment, planes, automobiles, and industrial equipment. And while machinery figures prominently, the exhibits always find a way to relate the machines to daily life.

Ford Racing

In the automotive section, there are digital displays where kids can learn about design engineering or order a new car while watching their budget. Another exhibit lets groups participate in an assembly line putting together wood models or get hands-on with the building of a real Model T.

Antique Cars on Display

The Henry Ford Museum of Transportation Innovations artfully display exhibits features antique, vintage and classic Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Unique artifacts and innovative displays hold interest and make learning accessible to all ages. Adults and teens will appreciate the depth of topics such as the Declaration of Independence, women’s suffrage, and slavery in the Civil Rights exhibit, while younger children are still able to relate by seeing George Washington’s camp bed or taking a seat in the restored Rosa Parks bus.

In the aviation area, there are three commercial aircraft interiors to sit in and get a real sense of what air travel was like in different eras. After that, have some fun folding paper airplanes to test. The Decades displays show common items, such as phones, toys, and entertainment items from the 20th century.

That old Atari 2600 isn’t too much different from the gaming consoles of today, but kids will have a good laugh at your first cell phone. If you have time, there is also a large-format movie theater and bus trips to tour Ford’s River Rouge truck factory.

The centerpiece of the aviation exhibit is a replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer, built by Ken Hyde. Other aviation exhibits include a 1909 Bleriot X, a 1939 Sikorsky VS300A, a Bleriot, and the first practical helicopter.

replica diner , white castles and Mc Donalds

Inside the museum, you will find a 1950’s replica diner, white castle, and Mc Donalds Restaurant

The Henry Ford Museum offers an affordable variety of food and souvenirs. From hot dogs to pan-fried trout, there are plenty of dining options to please every appetite. A restored 1940s diner even serves up classic milkshakes and meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Kids will enjoy watching a machine create a wax mold of their favorite museum items to take home for only $3, while the gift shop offers unique handmade pottery and glassworks from Greenfield Village.

The Henry Ford Museum is open most days throughout the year, except for a few Holidays. Tickets can be purchased in person or online for both the museum and Greenfield Village. Annual memberships are a great way to help the budget. Just two visits will save you some money, plus gain access to merchandise and food discounts. Visit the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village website for the latest information on hours, special events, and ticket prices. Henry Ford Museum link:

2021 Henry Ford Museum Car Exhibit Updates

Following the successful run of Marvel: Universe of Superheroes which closes on January 31, Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation’s GM Gallery will welcome the limited-engagement exhibitions Louis Comfort Tiffany: Treasures from the Driehaus Collection, opening March 6 – April 25 and The Jim Henson Exhibition: Imagination Unlimited, opening June 5 – September 6.

Coming early spring 2021 is the highly-anticipated opening of The Henry Ford’s newest permanent exhibition in Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Driven to Win: Racing in America presented by General Motors. This state-of-the-art, highly interactive permanent exhibit immerses members and guests in the excitement, adrenaline-pumping, thrilling history of auto racing in America.

Spread across 24,000 square feet, Driven to Win features 28 vehicles, roughly 225 artifacts, and multiple interactive experiences including six-driver simulators that put visitors behind the wheel on world-famous tracks throughout the world.

Map of Exhibits

Interior Exhibit Map

Driving America, Railroads, Presidential Vehicles, Heroes Of The Sky, With Liberty And Justice For All,
Your Place In Time, Your Place In Time, Dymaxion House, Fully Furnished, Agriculture, Modern Glass, & Mathematica.


  • MADE IN AMERICA – American Antique Cars, Quadricycle, Drive-In Theater, Mustang I, Mark V, Chrysler Turbine
  • RAILROADS – Fairlane Railcar, Allegheny Locomotive
  • PRESIDENTIAL VEHICLES – FDR Sunshine Special, Kennedy Limousine
  • HEROES OF THE SKY – 1939 Douglas DC-3, Ford Tri-Motor Airplane, Sikorsky Helicopter
  • WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL – Lincoln Chair, Rosa Parks Bus
  • MADE IN AMERICA – Build a Model T Car, Corliss Stationary Steam Engine, Miller Hardware
  • YOUR PLACE IN TIME – 1917 Overland Car, MTV Green Screen
  • DYMAXION HOUSE – Dymaxion House
  • FULLY FURNISHED – Eames Chair Prototype, Aeron Chair
  • AGRICULTURE – Sperry-New Holland Combine, First Fordson Tractor
  • MODERN GLASS – Davidson-Gerson, Modern Glass Gallery
  • MATHEMATICA – Probability Machine

Download Complete Welcome Guide and Map of Exhibits

History Of The Museum

The Henry Ford is an internationally recognized cultural museum and destination that brings the past forward by immersing visitors in the stories of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation that helped shape America. A national historic landmark with an unparalleled collection of artifacts from 300 years of American history, The Henry Ford is a force for sparking curiosity and inspiring tomorrow’s innovators.

More than 1.7 million visitors annually experience its four venues: Henry Ford Car Museum of American Innovation, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and the Benson Ford Research Center. A continually expanding array of content available online provides anytime, anywhere access to The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation.

The Henry Ford is also home to Henry Ford Academy, a public charter high school that educates 515 students a year on the institution’s campus. In 2014, The Henry Ford premiered its first-ever national, Emmy® Award-winning television series, The Henry Ford’s Innovation Nation, showcasing present-day change-makers and The Henry Ford’s artifacts and unique guest experiences. Hosted by news correspondent and humorist Mo Rocca, this weekly half-hour show airs Saturday mornings on CBS.

Below are some significant historical vehicles and innovations at the Henry Ford Museum.

Henry Ford’s First Gasoline Engine (1893)

Henry Ford's first had fed gasoline engine

Henry Ford’s first gasoline engine with an intake valve and flywheel first tested in Hend Ford’s home on December 24, 1893.

Henry Ford built his first experimental engine using some old scrap metal that he made into car parts. He tested the engine on the kitchen sink after supper on /Christmas Eve on December 24, 1893. For ignition, Ford ran a long wire from the ceiling’s light bulb to power the ignitor. His wife, Clara, hand-fed the gasoline to the intake valve while Henry spun the flywheel. The engine roared into action, shaking the kitchen sink. This engine is now located at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan. See the video of start the engine.

First Vehicle Developed by Henry Ford (1896)

The 1896 Ford Quadricycle

The 1896 Ford Quadricycle. The success of the little vehicle led to the founding of the Henry Ford Company and then later the Ford Motor Company in 1903

The Ford 1896 Quadricycle was the first-ever vehicle developed by Henry Ford. Ford’s first car was a simple frame with a gas-powered engine and four bicycle wheels mounted on it. The earliest concept cars were hand-built on bicycle wheels and a wooden frame. They were assembled one by one, produced n limited production, and were very expensive.

The peculiar machines were seen as grownup toys for the rich. In the late 1890s, the “horseless motorized carriage” was a relatively new idea. At the time, no one had a realistic or universal idea of what a horseless carriage should work – or even what it would look like.

Most all new auto innovators of the time were not good businessmen. But rather they were forward-thinking inventors working with their imaginations and the parts they had on hand. Thus, the invention of the Quadricycle marks an important innovation as a proto-type automobile that would lay the foundation for the future car, with more practical designs to follow.

On June 4, 1896, in a tiny workshop behind his home on 58 Bagley Avenue, Detroit, where the Michigan Building now stands, Ford put the finishing touches on his pure ethanol-powered motor. After more than two years of experimentation, Ford, at the age of 32, had completed his first experimental automobile.

He dubbed his creation the “Quadricycle,” so named because it ran on four bicycle tires, and because of the means through which the engine drove the back wheels. The success of the little vehicle led to the founding of the Henry Ford Company and then later the Ford Motor Company in 1903.

Model T Exploded View (1924)

Model T Ford Parts

Exploded View of a Model T Hanging From The Ceiling of the museum. These are all the parts necessary to manufacture a 1924 Model T Ford

Once recognized as the country’s first affordable vehicle, the1908 Ford Model T car is an American icon. The car first sold for only $850 which is equal to about $25,000 in today’s money.

At The Henry Ford Museum visitors will encounter an “exploded” 1924 Touring Model T where every component is suspended in the air. Pieces are aligned in the order that they were assembled, and the parts situated closer to the body and frame were incorporated before any of the farther parts.

“Exploded” models were used by many famous engineers to visualize the final production car. The most famous innovator to use the exploded view was Leonardo DaVinci.

At the museum, visitors to the “Made in America” exhibit will also have a daily chance to help construct a real Model T car.

WIKI – The Ford Model T is an automobile produced by Ford Motor Company from  1908, to  1927.  It is generally regarded as the first mas manufactured and affordable automobile, which made car travel available to middle-class Americans. The relatively low price was partly the result of Ford’s efficient fabrication, including assembly line production instead of individual handcrafting.

The Ford Model T Automobile was named the most influential car of the 20th century in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, ahead of the BMC Mini, Citroën DS, and Volkswagen Beetle. Ford’s Model T was successful not only because it provided inexpensive transportation on a massive scale, but also because the car signified innovation for the rising middle class and became a powerful symbol of the United States’ age of modernization. With 15 million sold, it stood eighth on the top-ten list of most sold cars of all time, as of 2012.

President Kennedy’s Presidential Limo

President Kennedy’s Lincoln

President Kennedy’s 1961 Lincoln Limousine. Kennedy was sitting in this car when he was assassinated on 22 November 1963. The now is now part of the Henry Ford Exhibit.

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in this car on November 22, 1963. The midnight blue, un-armored convertible was rebuilt with a permanent roof, titanium armor plating, and more somber black paint. The limousine returned to the White House and remained in service until 1977. The modified car shows the fundamental ways in which presidential security changed after Kennedy’s death.

cars and trucks and display

With more than 100 classic Collectable vehicles and 20 interactive touchscreens

In the background, far right, is a streamlined tank 1939 Dodge Airflow Tank Truck connected local Texaco service stations to a larger national distribution network. Each of America’s competing oil companies had a branded fleet of trucks that took gasoline from refineries to its retail service stations.

The car with the pointy front end is a 1980 Comuta-Car Electric Runabout Automobile. The Comuta-Car, and its predecessor the CitiCar, were electric cars designed for limited use in cities. Sharp increases in gasoline prices in the 1970s persuaded some 4,000 people to buy the tiny vehicles. But every time the price of fuel spiked, it always fell again, and demand for specialized urban electrics always fell along with it. Will the time for such cars ever come?

The black truck on the far left is a 1916 Woods Dual-Power Hybrid Coupe. In 1916, gasoline was cheap, and no one cared about tailpipe emissions. But this hybrid wasn’t about fuel prices or pollution. Woods Motor Vehicle Company built it to capture new customers. Sales of the company’s electric cars were falling as more people chose gasoline-burning cars. The Dual-Power supposedly combined the best of both, but customers disagreed. The car and the company disappeared in 1918.

Full List Of Exhibits At The Ford Museum

  • Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation list of “Must-See” Car Collections and & Exhibits…
  • The Lincoln Chair – On a grim day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot in this very chair. It now stands as homage to the Great Emancipator.
  • Rosa Parks Bus – Walk the winding path to equality and step inside the bus where Rosa Parks refused to move and forever changed history.
  • Kennedy Limousine – On November 22, 1963, America stood still. While riding through a parade in Dallas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in this limousine.
  • Massey-Harris Model  – The first commercially-successful self-propelled combine reduced the labor required for harvest by about 50%.
  • Fordson Tractor – Henry Ford developed the first mass-produced and inexpensive lightweight tractor to meet the needs of small farmers.
  • Paperweight Vessel – Modern studio glass—a blend of art, science, and technological innovation—embraces the notion of glass as a medium for creative expression.
  •  Hannah Barnard Court Cupboard – Newlywed Hannah Barnard’s gloriously decorated cupboard held precious household belongings
  • Aeron Task Chair, Pre-Production Prototype, 1994 – New materials and ergonomic design made the Aeron Chair a design marvel.
  • Gothic Revival Beam Engine, circa 1855  – This engine is arguably the finest surviving example of mid-19th century ornamented American machinery.
  •  Bugatti Royale – The largest, rarest and most expensive automobile of its time, the Bugatti Royale was the ultimate in motoring.
  •  Kiosk from IBM Pavilion, 1964 World’s Fair – Made from iron, walnut and plastic, this Eames-designed kiosk housed interactive exhibits explaining the impact and uses of IBM’s computing technology.
  • Sikorsky Helicopter – The Sikorsky VS3000A was the first helicopter to use a practical single-rotor design. Inventor Igor Sikorsky donated it to the museum in 1943.
  • Newcomen Engine – This is the oldest known surviving steam engine in the world.
  • Allegheny Steam Locomotive, 1941 – The “Allegheny” was one of only two locomotive classes built with two leading wheels, two sets of six driving wheels, and six trailing wheels.
  • Build a Model T Automobile – Grab a wrench and help build one of the cars that made Henry famous.
  • Model Trains – Enjoy the massive toy train display.
  • 1909 Model T – Featuring a restored 1909 Model T – the car that revolutionized the way Americans view and interact with automobiles.
  • Dymaxion House – Buckminster Fuller’s unconventional dwelling has inspired generations of innovators.
  • Ford Quadricycle – The Quadricycle was Henry Ford’s first automobile. The original wouldn’t fit through Ford’s door so he broke through the wall to get it to the street.
  • ”Sweepstakes” Race Car – When Henry Ford’s “Sweepstakes” race car defeated Alexander Winton in 1901, national attention focused on the novice auto builder.
  • Canadian Pacific Snowplow, 1923 – This 20-ton, wedge-shaped plow was designed for use on a single track.
  • Fair Lane – Henry Ford’s private railcar, purchased in 1920, had four private rooms, an observation lounge, a dining room, and a fully equipped kitchen.
  • Chilled Plow – Chilled plows, like this 1890 Oliver #20, were stronger than traditional cast-iron plows and allowed farmers to turn the earth more effectively.
  • George Washington Camp Bed – This simple camp bed demonstrates the admirable nature of Washington – even as commander, he slept in the same conditions as his men.
  • 1965 Lotus-Ford Race Car – A new paradigm in American race cars.
  • Ford “999” Race Car – This racer is the original ‘999’ which won the Manufacturer’s Challenge Cup in 1902.
  • Mustang Serial #1 – This iconic muscle car was the epitome of ‘cool.’ It ushered in an era dominated by the pony car.


  • Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park Laboratory – See a recreation of the laboratory where Thomas Edison designed many of his inventions, including his incandescent lamp and the first practical device for recording and reproducing sound.
  • Wright Brothers Shop – See the bicycle shop where the Wright Brothers first experimented with flight.
  • Luther Burbank Garden Office – This office stood in Luther Burbank’s 40-acre experimental garden in Santa Rosa, California.
  • Soybean Lab – Chemist Robert Boyer ran this laboratory, where researchers experimented with industrial uses for farm crops.
  • Firestone Farm – Visit a classic 19th-century farmhouse, the boyhood home of tire pioneer Harvey Firestone. The farm’s fields are planted and worked as on the original 1880s farm.
  • Fireside Yellow & Red Persian – “Fireside Yellow & Red Persian” embodies the quintessential elements of Dale Chihuly’s design.
  • Glass Shop – See our talented glassblowers in action and take home a custom blown gift.
  • George Washington Carver Cabin – Born into slavery, Carver experimented with plants and laid the groundwork for today’s research on plant-based fuels, medicines and everyday products.
  • Greenfield Village Playground – Enjoy our unique, all-abilities playground.
  • Rides at Greenfield Village – Hop aboard some of the vintage Ford automobiles and trains that transport you around Greenfield Village.
  • Model T Ride – Take a ride on Ford’s famous Model T.
  • Ford Home – See the home where young Henry Ford grew up and first began dreaming of how to take the drudgery out of farm work through innovation.
  • Smiths Creek Depot – The Smiths Creek Depot originally stood on the Grand Trunk Western Railway, about 10 miles southwest of Port Huron, Michigan.
  • DT&M Roundhouse – Roundhouses like this one kept locomotives in good working order. For every day that a steam locomotive ran, it needed one day of maintenance.
  • Eagle Tavern – Experience dining in 19th-century tavern style.
  • Daggett Farm – See the 1754 home where the Daggetts made and grew many of the things they needed.
  • Scotch Settlement School – Henry Ford attended this one-room school in 1871, when John Chapman served as schoolmaster.
  • Mrs. Cohen’s Millinery – Elizabeth Cohen, a Detroit widow, was known for her fantastically beautiful and artistic handmade hats.
  • Jacquard Loom – This mechanical loom allowed weavers to make “figured and fancy” coverlets with curved, naturalistic designs rather than geometric patterns.
  • Cotswold Cottage – The architecture of the Cotswold region is a result of both the versatility and limitations of the local limestone.
  • Frozen Custard – Enjoy America’s favorite hot weather treat – frozen custard.


  • FORD ROUGE EXHIBIT  – Factory Tour
  • Ford Rouge Factory Tour – Tour an actual Ford factory and immerse yourself in the past, present and future of American automobile manufacturing.
  • Living Roof – Planted with a drought-resistant groundcover, the Living Roof is one of the largest living roofs in the world.

In 2018, The Henry Ford advanced its role as a catalyst for change in education with the acquisition of The STEMIE Coalition, a growing affiliation of organizations dedicated to fostering innovation, invention and entrepreneurship at the K-12 level. Through The STEMIE Coalition, Henry Ford hosts the National Invention Convention and Entrepreneurship Expo and makes innovation learning curriculum accessible to educators and students worldwide.

The Henry Ford is an independent, 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. We depend on ticket purchases, income from our gift shops and restaurants, and tax-deductible contributions and memberships for support.

There are over 100 vehicles on display at the Henry Ford Exhibit.

Henry Ford Museum “Driving America Exhibit” in Dearborn Michigan
20900 Oakwood Boulevard, Dearborn, MI 48124‑5029
Contact Center: 313-982-6001
Tickets Price: $25

Contact Center Hours: Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Buy Tickets

Visit The Henry Ford Museum Here.

Download Complete Welcome Guide and Map of Exhibits

Additional Activities at Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum

Take a Ride in a Genuine Antique Model-T Ford

Antique T-Ford

Next is the Herny Ford Museum is Greenfield Village in which you can take a ride around town in an Antique T-Ford.

See the full digital collection of cars on the Henry Ford Website

Assortment of additional exhibits at the Henry Ford Museum

assortment of cars

Car Collections on display at the Henry Ford Greenfield Village Museum

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